There seems to be a theme going on with my favorite football teams opponents this weekend. Yesterday, it was with WVU and today it shows up with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of these teams found themselves matched up against opponents that are far from flashy but never beat themselves. I guess the good news is that Pittsburgh has no excuse for coming out anything other than totally focused tonight. If last week’s dismantling at the hands of Philly wasn’t enough to set them straight maybe last years loss in Kansas City will do the trick. Remember when the Steelers went to KC to face a 1-5 Chiefs team and ended up dropping the ball to set off KC’s streak into the playoffs? You might not, but I’m sure the Black and Gold do.
What to say about tonight’s matchup? If you’re the defense, don’t give up big plays. Pittsburgh isn’t going to shut anyone down — not even a team as offensively straight and narrow as the Chiefs, but they have to prevent big plays and make Alex Smith and company earn every point. Keith Butler has some decisions to make and he’ll have to earn his paycheck this week because I’m not sure what I’d do to stifle KC’s offense? Do you blitz and play to Alex Smith’s strengths forcing him into short quick reads? Or do you sit back a little bit and play to Alex Smith’s strengths and have him relax in the pocket going through his progressions to take what’s available? I don’t know what the answer is, I just know I want to see a defensive backbone this week.
On offense, I’d like the Steelers to look like the Steelers. You know, picking up first downs and scoring. Really, I want to see them run the ball. I’m not one of those old dudes who goes around preaching “3 yards and a cloud of dust”, but run the damn ball. Especially in the first half. I don’t care if you’re down 100-0, if it’s the first half you put the ball on your running back’s stomach and watch him go to work. Balance. It pays dividends later.
It sounds weird, but the outcome of tonight’s game is going to have a big say in how this season plays out for the Steelers. With the Ravens 3-0 (even against complete garbage) they have math on their side already and will most likely end up as a playoff team. And the Bengals are every bit as good as Pittsburgh right now. Waking up tomorrow 2-2 is not where we want to find ourselves.
Steelers 24 Chiefs 19